guy who told Jesus he'd die for Him and then at the first sign of trouble swore an oath he'd never heard of the guy? That Peter? Yup. Oh, and don’t forget about Paul. You know what he did before, right Jesus? Saul?! Remember him!? He killed Christians!
That’s the joy of Feast Days in the church where we remember saints, disciples, or apostles. The church isn’t built upon these men as men but upon them as apostles: those sent by Jesus to preach in His Name.
And what were they sent to preach? Not Peter and Paul, but Jesus! Jesus crucified and raised for sinners, like us. Jesus at the right-hand of the Father. Jesus by water and word and body and blood – for you. Peter and Paul point don’t point us to themselves, but to Jesus Crucified for you. Remember the word of the day: Apostle, sent.Pastors are no different today. Pastors are sent, not to persuade you with their award winning personality. Not so you know all our hobbies, favorite foods or music. Not saying those are all bad, but that’s not the main thing. We’re not the big deal. What comes out of the pastor’s mouth is the big deal. That we preach what we are sent to preach: Jesus is the Son of God who came into the flesh, was crucified for your sins and rose again. And that this same Jesus delivers abundant forgiveness to you in water, word, and in Jesus' body and blood.
Thank God the Good News of the Gospel isn’t dependent upon the pastor’s charisma or good looks or sense of humor. Thank God Pastors aren’t like the secret sauce on the animal burgers at In N Out; we’re not the special ingredient that makes the Gospel work and keep people coming back to Church. No, God’s word is powerful enough to do exactly what he sent it out to do: heal, save, forgive, call, gather, enlighten, make us holy. Pastors are simply messengers. Mouthpieces. Megaphones of the Gospel. Instruments. Sent ones.But there’s the temptation, to make it all about us. And believe me, that temptation is just as real, if not more intense at times, for pastors. It’s easy to think the church’s life and health are dependent upon you. Thank God it isn’t my church or your church. We’d make a mess of it in no time. Just look at what Adam and Eve did in the Garden. We’re no different: apostles of a false god, always sending ourselves to conduct our own little mission projects for our own little kingdoms. That’s why we were sent out of Eden in the first place. And that’s why the Lord promised to send a child born of a woman.
That’s why the Lord sent prophets to foretell this child’s birth in BethlehemThat’s why angels sang as the Sent One, Jesus, was born to bring peace on earth and good news for all.
That’s why Jesus was sent to us. To bring us back from our eternal exile in sin, death, and hell. To lead us out and send us back to the Father. To send our sin to the cross, to send the devil running, and to send Death to its death.Jesus sent Apostles like St. Peter and St. Paul to deliver that message to us in the Scriptures. That’s why Jesus sends pastors into the Church to deliver that message to you week after week after week.
Today we give thanks for both: the Good News that because Jesus died and rose, we have the forgiveness of sins. But we also give thanks for the actual men who carried that message to the ends of the earth and even suffered death to do so; Paul was beheaded and Peter was crucified upside down. It's not that we glorify these men for their own sakes. After all, they are just men. Rather, we give thanks that they preached the Gospel and the Spirit worked faith in those who heard it.
Good News: Jesus Christ has triumphed over your sin, death, the devil and hell. And it’s this Good News that sends the devil running away, that scoops up sinners into Christ's church and that displays the glory of God in the mercy of Jesus for all the world to see.
Every time we hear, confess, sing, rejoice in, and give thanks for the Gospel it’s an all-out assault on the devil, the world, and our sinful nature. The Gospel drop kicks Satan in the face every time it’s preached and confessed and sung and rejoiced in. That’s what Jesus means when he says the gates of hell will not be able to prevail against his church. The preaching of forgiveness of sins is God’s way of sending in the Navy SEALs to boot down the door of our sin, bind our old Adam, and rescue us from the gates of hell.
Rejoice. All of that is yours in Baptism where Jesus